Presentation on theme: "MILITARY CULTURE IN THE WAFFEN-SS: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON CONTEMPORARY MILITARY CULTURES Prof. Niels Bo Poulsen, Royal Danish Defense College 08-04-2017."— Presentation transcript:
1 MILITARY CULTURE IN THE WAFFEN-SS: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON CONTEMPORARY MILITARY CULTURES Prof. Niels Bo Poulsen, Royal Danish Defense College
2 Structure of my presentation What was the Waffen-SS (W-SS)?Military culture in the W-SSFactors structuring the military culture of the W-SSThe erosion of military culture in the W-SSConcluding remarksDanish SS-soldiers passing though a burning village in Russia.
3 The Waffen-SS – a multinational army Out of app soldiers:Germans from GermanyVolksdeutsche (ethnic Germans)LatviansDutchYugoslav MoslemsFlemishUkrainiansEstoniansWalloniansFrench, Danes, Norwegians, Italians, etc…
4 What was the Waffen-SS?An integral part of Himmler’s SS- and police empireA self proclaimed racial and political elite within the Nazi movementA volunteer force to be used against domestic unrest in warThe W-SS grew from a few thousand men in 1934 to 36 divisions in 1945Diether Pohl: Rygter om Babij Jar massakren nåede officerskasinoet i Rais et par dage efter det skete.Kontinuitet mellem front og bagland relevant:Norwegian Waffen-SS recruitment poster, The poster refers both to the “Aryan” ideal and to Norway’s Viking past.
5 Military culture in the Waffen-SS Based on Nazi norms, values and assumptions = political soldiersAggressive style of warfareHigh losses (?)Formal military education less emphasizedHigh degree of unit cohesion, low desertion rateNo quarter to POWs or civiliansThe French village Oradour in which SS-soldiers killed around 650 unarmed civilians in June
6 6th South African Armoured Division Fights 16 SS Panzergrenadier division “Reichsführer-SS” in Northern Italy fall 1944The 6th SAAD on the fighting qualities of the SS troops: - “The morale very high” - “Strong and fanatical band” - “Fanatical disregard of [our] defensive fire”In two large massacres the 16 SS div. kills around civilians6th SAAD Victory Parade at Monza, Italy. 14 July 1945.Ruins of Marzabotto where the W-SS killed 770 civilians.
7 Structuring factors Age Political indoctrination/totalitarian frameworkHard discipline and SS jurisdictionGenerous allotment of equipment and manpowerReputation as a modern force with careers open to allFear of captureSS-tank commander Michael Wittmann and his crew in front of a Tiger tank.
8 Challenges to the mil. cult. of the Waffen-SS Enormous expansion during the warVolunteering is partly replaced by draftRecruitment of “non-aryan” nationalitiesSönke Neitzel (2002): “The Waffen-SS never existed: instead there was a hotchpotch of 36 divisions…”Above: The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem al-Husseini in 1943 inspecting Bosnian Moslem troops under SS command.